Friday, June 07, 2002

Old school will teach history

By Jennifer Edwards,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — An important piece of this booming suburb's history will dodge the wrecking ball and remain a place for learning.

[photo] The Dudley Schoolhouse, built in the 1880s, will have a new home in the Voice of America Park.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        The No. 7 schoolhouse, which has sat on the Dudley Farm at Tylersville and Cox roads since the 1880s, will be moved this fall to Voice of America Park and renovated as a nature education center.

        “It served the community as a school before, and now it's going to serve it again at the park,” Trustee Catherine Stoker said. “Other structures are gone and can't be replaced. Big chunks of history are being wiped out. But if we can save a few of them, it benefits the entire community.”

        The two-story schoolhouse was used until 1916 on the Dudley Farm and then was converted into a private residence. The brick exterior has remained much the same.

        Butler County bought the parcel earlier this year to widen Cox Road from two to five lanes.

        It will cost about $250,000 to move and restore the building, Township Assistant Administrator Judith Carter said.

    Private contributions will be needed to pay for restoration of the No. 7 schoolhouse. A fund has been established with the Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty.

    Checks can be made payable to the foundation in care of West Chester Parks Fund/Schoolhouse: P.O. Box 1774, West Chester Township, OH 45071 Details: 874-5450.
    Donations also can be made online at
        Moving money will come from Butler County's 30-year tax increment financing district in that area, Assistant County Administrator Tim Williams said.

        But township officials are trying to raise money for renovation. A fund has been established with the West Chester/Liberty Foundation.

        The schoolhouse would be the focal point of the Daisaku Ikeda Tree Grove, which was donated to the township by Soka Gakka International, a lay Buddhist association committed to fostering individual responsibility for a global community.

        The grove, with about 100 Donald Wyman crabapple and Partmore ash trees, will be planted around the nature center, providing a backdrop for quiet reflection in the park.

        “The restored schoolhouse offers a sense of character that a new structure would not,” said Township Parks Development Manager Chrisbell Bednar. “The nature center will feature static displays and provide classroom space for nature talks and programs.”

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